More often than not we take our health for granted. By now the internet had made us painfully aware of how an inactive lifestyle, bad diet, stress and other factors can have a huge impact on the most vital organs of our body. Yet, we hardly ever take any measures to make things right. We test luck. One such organ is the heart, which is responsible for pumping blood throughout the body and supplying oxygen and nutrients to tissue. A slight complication in the heart can disrupt the entire bodies functions. We all know the consequences of heart disease in general terms, but have little or no knowledge about the exact symptoms and risk factors to look out for. To learn more about heart health, we invited a cardiologist, Dr Zeeshan Malik to the Mashion HQ. He answered all your queries. If you missed the Q&A session, scroll down for everything that we learnt from him.
1. Identifying Chest Pain
Chest pain is one of the most common and major symptoms of a heart attack. It can feel like a sharp stab or sometimes a mild ache. In some cases the pain also travels up to the neck, into the jaw, and to one or both arms. However, chest pain is not always an indication of a heart related malfunction. It is usually just muscular pain, or can also be caused due to gastritis, local inflammation, or sometimes is also just a result of stress. But if the pain is severe and lasts for a long time, it could be associated with heart disease. Dr. Zeeshan describes chest pain directly linked to the heart and says, “it is like heaviness and will not feel like pinching. Its severity will be quite intense and pain character will not change with change in posture. Respiration can be associated with sweating and shortness of breath.”
2. The Case For Multivitamins
As the name suggests, the purpose of multivitamins is to supplement a healthy diet. A large number of people consume multivitamins daily to make up for the nutrients they usually miss from their regular diet. Supplements alone can never replace a healthy diet and lifestyle, though. They don’t always successfully help prevent disease, and a high dose of multivitamins can also be harmful in some cases. Our expert prefers a healthy diet over multivitamins and says, “I’m of a strong view to encourage having a healthy diet. If we start eating fruits, vegetables and meat occasionally, then there won’t be any kind of deficiency of any vitamin. However, our demand may increase in some conditions such as during pregnancy and lactation, in which case multivitamins can be prescribed.”
3. Overcoming High Triglyceride Levels
Triglycerides are the most common form of fat (lipid) found in the blood. The body converts any extra calories into triglycerides, which get stored in your fat cells and are later released by the hormones for energy between meals. If one regularly consumes more calories than they burn, then it can lead to high triglycerides. Having a high level of triglycerides in your blood can further increase your risk of heart disease. According to Dr. Zeeshan, high TG levels can also be an indicator of other diseases. He recommends getting checked for diabetes, thyroid hormones and high cholesterol levels. But if all these are ruled out, he then suggests the following:
1) Maintain a healthy lifestyle
2) Walk for 150min/week (brisk walk)
3) Consume a diet including legumes, vegetables, fruits, fish and nuts
4) If the levels still remain high, then opt for medicines like statins.
4. The Right Amount Of Activity For A Healthy Heart
It’s a universal fact that being more active can help people think, feel, sleep better, and perform daily tasks more easily. Exercising regularly also helps prevent high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, and a host of other chronic diseases as it reduces levels of LDL (bad cholesterol). According to our expert, moderate exercise is optimal for a healthy heart. He says, “to keep your heart healthy, sometimes mild or moderate intensity, i.e. a brisk walk 2.4-4 mph or cycling 5-9 mph 150min/week is ideal. And other times vigorous exercise like running 5mph or cycling more than 10mph 75min/week is preferable.”
5. Does High Blood Pressure Cause Heart Attacks?
High blood pressure is the root cause of a large number of diseases. It can damage your body for years before any major symptoms even begin to develop. If left uncontrolled, it can lead to serious health issues. “High blood pressure is 27% cause of heart attacks but it’s a reversible cause. If one maintains blood pressure below 130/80mm Hg, then they can avoid extra burden on heart. One should observe when they get chest pain. If it happens while doing some work and is relieved while resting, then they must consider some more tests.” says Dr. Zeeshan.
6. Hypothyroidism Is A Red Flag
The thyroid hormone has an effect on every organ in your body, especially your heart. The hormone impacts the force and speed of your heartbeat, blood pressure, and cholesterol level. This means a malfunctioning thyroid gland can cause problems that can worsen previous cardiac symptoms or contribute to new ones. He says, “hypothyroidism can cause heart rhythm problems, atherosclerosis (fat deposition in blood channels), slow functioning of heart and can almost enlarge the heart. Heart attack is also possible due to fat deposition.” Explaining the causes and treatment, he further states, “hypothyroidism can be due to different causes, some of which are reversible. Complete history and check up is required for managing the pt and it can also be treated easily with thyroxine.”
7. Precautions For Patients With Pacemaker
A pacemaker is a small device comprising of two parts — a generator and wires — that’s placed under the skin in a heart patients chest to help stabilise and control their heartbeat. It is usually implanted in a persons chest with a minor surgery. However, after its implantation they are a few precautions that the patient needs to take in their daily life. Dr. Zeeshan suggests patients with pacemakers to avoid vigorous exercise of the arm, where the device is implanted. Along with this, security detectors, MRI, diathermy (physical therapy involving heat waves) and any magnetic instruments should also be avoided.
8. Consuming Fat Is Not All Bad
Fats can contribute to a high cholesterol level, which can lead to the build up of plaques in your arteries. This is called atherosclerosis, which increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. In order to reduce your blood cholesterol and the risk of coronary artery disease, it is important to limit your consumption of saturated and trans fats. According to Dr. Zeeshan it all depends on the type of fats one is consuming. He says, “eating fats depends on the type. Majority of fat in our food is healthy and good cholesterol such as eggs. However, an excess intake of everything is bad.”
9. Cure For Throat Ache
A sore throat is often caused by a viral infection, which gets better on its own. A severe throat ache, otherwise known as strep throat, is a result of bacterial infection. If left untreated, it can lead to serious heart and kidney complications. Such throat pain needs to be treated with antibiotics. For sore throats that aren’t associated with fever, our expert suggests doing gargles with dispirin twice or thrice a day. And if needed, he recommends taking denzen ds (anti-inflammatory drug) as medicine.
10. Regular Tests For Heart Issues
The first step to detecting any health condition early on is to get screened and tested. When it comes to heart problems, early diagnosis can prove to be lifesaving. Dr. Zeeshan recommends getting the following tests done: complete blood count, liver function test, kidney function test (RFT), blood sugar fasting, serum uric acid, fasting lipid profile. “Baseline should be done around 20 years of age and repeated every two years.”